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INTERVIEW: Coley on facing Oxford

Reds boss wary of United threat as Karl Robinson's men look to kick start their season

25 September 2020

John Coleman is wary of the threat Oxford United will pose as last season’s Play-Off finalists look to kick start their League One campaign.

The Us lost to Wycombe in July at Wembley and have suffered something of a Play-Off hangover as they have lost their opening two league encounters without scoring.

Karl Robinson, who like John Coleman signed a new four-year contract recently, has had to reshuffle his pack with the loss of defender Rob Dickie to QPR and the retirement of striker Jamie Mackie.

He has brought a number of new players in, including former Stanley loan midfielder Sean Clare.

“I know Oxford are a good side, I know Karl Robinson really well and get on well with him,” said Coleman, whose side drew 2-2 with United at the Wham Stadium last season but the Reds lost 3-0 at the Kassam Stadium just before lockdown.

“They play good football, they always have done, and they have got good players.

“They had a raft of injuries like we encountered a few weeks back when we had around 14 players out injured and I know how much it takes its toll on you.

“But I am sure they will be keen to get their season up and running and we are expecting a tough test.”

Coleman still has some injury problems with Newcastle loan midfielder Mo Sangare out for at least six weeks but there is good news with striker Colby Bishop back on the pitch and long-term casualty Sean McConville back in training.

“With Mo, we will have to see if it settles down, it could be six weeks or eight weeks but you don’t want to rush him as you could lose him for the season, so we are mindful of that.

“We have one or two other bumps and bruises but we are getting some of the long terms back slowly, Sean should be back in a couple of weeks and that would be like having a new signing.

“Colby will get stronger the more games he plays.”

The Reds beat Peterborough on the opening day of the campaign but lost to Burton to a goal three minutes from time last weekend.

While Coleman was frustrated with that, he is pleased with the way his players have settled into a new formation of playing three at the back.

“We know there are areas we can improve on, I thought we defended really well against Burton, they were two sucker punches really.

“They didn’t have too many chances in the game but I have to take responsibility in that, while we did make a couple of good chances, our play wasn’t the way I would have liked and I should have done something about it quicker.

“I have to take some of the blame for the tactics we employed but it’s all a learning curve and we have got young players who are very keen to take on board what we are saying and work hard and hopefully we can bounce back tomorrow.

“We have been playing three at the back but we have got to be flexible and that’s not the only system we can play, we have got to be able to play numerous systems throughout the season and we don’t want to be typecast with just being that.

“Saying that, it has been good, everyone who has been asked to go in there has defended well and I think one of the pleasing aspects at the start of the season is that we are defending well.”

This game was meant to be a test event of fans returning to the Wham Stadium but, with the latest Government news, it will again be behind closed doors.

“It is frustrating we haven’t got fans this week but we can’t govern what’s going on globally and we just have to abide by the rules,” added the Reds boss.


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